This morning Apple announced its 2014 MacBook Air refresh. With Intel's 14nm Broadwell SoC delayed, this mid-cycle update still uses Haswell ULT parts. The chassis and internal specs haven't changed, however the base CPU gets a slight speed bump. The 1.3GHz Core i5-4250U is replaced by a 1.4GHz Core i5-4260U. The extra 100MHz won't change much, you can expect a 0 - 3% increase in performance compared to last year's entry level model. The upgraded CPU option hasn't changed, and Apple continues to accept nothing less than Intel's HD 5000 (Haswell GT3) on any of its MBAs.

Apple 2014 MacBook Air CPU Comparison
  1.4GHz dual-core 1.7GHz dual-core
Standard On 11 & 13-inch MBA Optional on Both
Intel Model Core i5-4260U Core i7-4650U
Base Clock Speed 1.4GHz 1.7GHz
Max SC Turbo 2.7GHz 3.3GHz
Max DC Turbo 2.4GHz 2.9GHz
L3 Cache 3MB 4MB
TXT No Yes
AES-NI Yes Yes
VT-x/VT-x EPT Yes Yes
VT-d Yes Yes
TDP 15W 15W
Processor Graphics Intel HD 5000 Intel HD 5000
GPU Clock (Base/Max) 200/1000MHz 200/1100MHz

The bigger news is that, hot on the heels of a solid financial quarter, Apple is dropping all MBA prices by $100. The entry level 11.6-inch system now starts at $899. I suspect Apple is making room for an eventual MacBook Air with Retina Display. That design is expected to be a launch vehicle for Intel's Broadwell, but it's unclear how Intel's 14nm delays will impact the schedule for that product.

2014 MacBook Air Refresh
  11.6-inch 11.6-inch (high-end) 13.3-inch 13.3-inch (high-end)
H: 0.11-0.68" (0.3-1.7cm)
W: 11.8" (30cm)
D: 7.56" (19.2cm)
H: 0.11-0.68" (0.3-1.7cm)
W: 12.8" (32.5cm)
D: 8.94" (22.7cm)
Weight 2.38 lbs (1.08kg) 2.96 lbs (1.35kg)
CPU 1.4GHz dual-core Core i5 1.4GHz dual-core Core i5
GPU Intel HD 5000
Display Resolution 1366 x 768 1440 x 900
Ports Thunderbolt, 2x USB 3.0, headphone jack Thunderbolt, 2x USB 3.0, SD card slot, headphone jack
Networking 2x2:2 802.11ac 2x2:2 802.11ac
Battery 38 Wh 54 Wh
Price $899 $1099 $999 $1199

I was a fan of the 2013 MBA, and this price drop only makes the system more accessible. Unless you're holding out for a model with a Retina Display, the refresh is still a great buy.

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  • tipoo - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Any idea when Broadwell macbooks are slated for?
  • MikhailT - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Any time in 2015. Intel's not able to get it out this year, so they're doing a small spec bump instead.

    I'd suspect '15 MBA is going to be a huge update with TB2, 14nm CPUs+ better IGP, retina display, and so on.
  • AnandtechLegacy - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    What does that say about Skylake? Intel said that despite Broadwell being delayed that Skylake wasn't. If broadwell comes out in early 2015 for devices as well as planned Broadwell K for desktops what does that say about Skylake Q2 release? Broadwell would be deprecated one quarter after it's debut, seems ridiculous to think Skylake wouldn't be delayed but then Skylake would miss out on the super profitable back to school season just as broadwell did this year which intel, apple etc. must be furious about. So if Skylake comes out later what does that say about the typical tick tock candence release schedule, no more Q2 releases? Or some mixing & matching?
  • Bkord123 - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    Hi folks. Can someone break it down for me in basic terms? I've been flirting with a new MBA for about 3-4 years. Every year when it comes out, I read a ton of people saying the NEXT year is the one to get. First it was Ivy Bridge was going to be the game changer. Then Sandy Bridge. Or the reverse of that. Who cares. Then Haswell. Now Broadwell? I really thought I was going to buy it last year but so many people ripped the display for not being IPS and looking like shit off-axis that I held off. Who in the hell would care about .1 in processor speed? I like how your "improvement" could be 0-3%. Zero. Only Apple.
  • frostyfiredude - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - link

    In general if you can wait, do it, the future will always hold better products.

    Right now though the MacBook AIrs are quite good, performance is solid, storage is very fast and SSD upgrades aren't too crazy costly anymore and battery life is excellent. So long as you don't need the high DPI display they're great machines and won't disappoint, while if you do the Retina MBP 13 isn't too much more and doesn't compromise size too much so is another good option.
  • jaydee - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    I think the 13" MBA is a pretty nice sweet spot right now. We know we are at least 6, more likely 9 months away from a Broadwell MBA, and that will probably come in a 12" form factor. I prefer 13", the battery life is outstanding right now, performance is very good, especially I/O with the PCI-E SSD.

    I guess if you can wait up to 9 months, need a retina, don't mind 12" screen, and can not afford another $200 for the MBP, then you should wait for Broadwell MBA. Otherwise MBA/MBP are very good options.
  • wiz329 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    How about that Haswell rMBP review? That coming anytime soon?
  • tipoo - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    By the time the Broadwell MBP is out :P
  • jaydee - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    The only "real" news I see is the CPU bump. While the MSRP is $100 lower, the street price of the MBA has already been there on a lot of outlets. It's just making the price drop official and permanent. Which fits Apples strategy, they want people paying MSRP for their products, instead of paying $100 less, than a $100 higher MSRP product.

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